One of my colleagues attended the 2006 IMPACT conference, the annual WebCT users meeting in Chicago. He posted a great outline of the opening keynote that Blackboard Chairman Matthew Pittinsky and CEO Michael Chasen gave.
While there were many points made, the one that I think stuck with me the most was the following
...As a side note, they currently plan two means by which clients will be able to migrate to the ultimate end product. One is the gradual conversion over time through the use of Application Packs which will evolve and reshape the existing system. The other option is to wait a take a single leap into the new system...
This, if they can pull it off, is a very clever move. Many WebCT institutions will be taking the Blackboard-WebCT buyout as an opportunity to investigate other LMS solutions -- namely ones of the open-source variety. It now sounds like blindly upgrading through the Application Packs will ultimately transform their LMS environment into something very close to the future BlackCT product -- making it more difficult to leap to an open-source solution (or even consider one).
I haven't seen yet if the Application Packs will be mandatory upgrades or if they will be in parallel with the others (i.e., Service Packs). Certainly I would hope the latter. We may ultimately choose to go down this road, but I would like to make that choice, thank you very much.